Imagine Otherwise: Badia Ahad-Legardy on Black Historical Joy and Inspiration

Mar 18, 2021 | Podcast

Black Historical Joy

How can looking to the past enliven the present and inspire the future? And how can we foment that inspiration in our daily practices and habits?

My guest for today’s episode is Badia Ahad-Legardy, whose most recent book Afro-Nostalgia is a brilliant and energizing archive of Black historical joy. Badia’s work demonstrates the powerful role pleasure plays in motivating social change and forging communal ties across time and space.

In our conversation, Badia and I discuss the daily practices she uses to encourage intellectual and political inspiration, including the role of white space and refusals. We also discuss building momentum across large writing projects like a book, and why actively cultivating joy for herself and for others is how Badia imagines otherwise.

Badia Ahad-Legardy wearing a blue shirt. Quote reads: At its heart, Afro-Nostalgia is about Black joy. Writing about Black nostalgia was my way of looking toward the past as a way to cope with the present and to inspire a vision of the future.
Badia Ahad-Legardy wearing a blue shirt. Quote reads: I have never believed in the “magic” of inspiration. When inspiration strikes, it’s because I’ve been meditating on an idea for a long time in a really ordinary, mundane way. It’s about paying attention to the idea and not letting it go.

Badia Ahad-Legardy

Badia Ahad-Legardy is an associate professor of English and vice provost for faculty affairs at Loyola University Chicago. 

Her most recent book, Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2021), analyzes a multimedia archive of black historical joy and reveals how Black artists engage afro-nostalgia to inspire good feelings even within our darkest moments.

She is also the author of Freud Upside Down: African American Literature and Psychoanalytic Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2010), which explores how twentieth-century Black artists and intellectuals asserted the interior lives of African Americans to achieve social equality and racial justice. 

Badia is currently at work on a new project on blackness and leisure, is co-editing a special journal issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on Black time and temporality (forthcoming in spring 2022), and is co-hosting (with Anthony Ocampo) a new podcast, Professor-ing, sponsored by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.

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